Growing up, I always remember hearing the phrase “once saved, always saved.” Over the past several days, I have really begun to ask myself, “Do I really believe that? and if so, why do I believe that?” In order to come to a solid conclusion on the topic at hand, I believe that we must look to Scripture as a whole. I say that because anyone can go through and pick individual verses of the Bible to make it fit what they are trying to convey. Now, let’s get started.
First, let’s ask the question, “Who is responsible for the salvation process?” Are we saved because God chooses us? Are we saved because we choose God? Are we saved because God chooses us and then we choose Him? In order to come to an accurate answer on the question, “Can you lose your faith?”, I believe we must start with the question, “Can you earn your faith?”
One of the most difficult things for people to understand about salvation is that you cannot do anything to earn it. Salvation is a gift. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8 that “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
It is my belief that salvation is initiated by God, but we have the choice to respond. Because we are sinful from birth, from the moment we were conceived (Psalm 51:5), we would never choose God on our own. We can see in the Scriptures from the birth of Jesus that God initiated the salvation process. It was God that initiated the plan for salvation when he sent His only Son to be the savior of the world (1 John 4:14). On the flip side, we can see in Matthew 7:13-14 that “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
Do we choose God on our own? No.
Does God choose us? Yes.
Do we respond to God? Yes.
The salvation process works like this:
God reaches down –> We realize our sin that separates us from God –> We repent (turn away never to return again) from our sin –> We reach out to God –> God saves us.
Now the we understand that salvation is not earned; rather, it is a gift, we can begin to address the issue of “once saved, always saved.” One of the most misinterpreted Scriptures when it comes to losing your salvation is Hebrews 6:4-6 which says, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance.”
This Scripture is describing people who have tasted and fallen away. Most people believe this means you can lose your salvation. There is no place in this passage that suggests that it is referring to salvation. All of the terms that are used in these verses are terms that are descriptive of the people who lived in Jesus’ time and had all the revelation that could be given to them and they rejected it. It is not referring to those already saved; rather, it is those to whom God is making himself available and they are rejecting Him.
It is my belief that you cannot lose what you did not earn. I do not believe that someone can lose their salvation if they are TRULY a follower of Christ. I believe that anyone who is IN Christ, is a new creation. The old is GONE, the new has come. If someone has surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, their life will bear fruit accordingly.
Remember in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 Jesus speaks of the sower who scattered seeds on the rocky soil As a result, “It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. (v.5-6)” Jesus then explains later in verses 20-21 that “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”
I do not believe the question is whether or not someone can lose their salvation. I believe the better question is: “were they saved to begin with?” How can you tell if you are truly saved? I believe that the evidence of salvation can be summed up in 5 points:
1. You will confess Jesus Christ as Lord. (1 John 4:15) – If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
2. You will obey the commands of Christ (1 John 5:3) – In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
I am not saying you will obey the commands of Christ perfectly, but in your disobedience, you will repent, and turn back to the ways of God.
3. You will be miserable while sinning (1 John 3:9) – No one born of God makes a practice (habit) of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
4. You will keep yourself from the devil (1 John 5:18) – We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
5. You will love other Christians (1 John 5:1) – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.